On the night of July 9, 2020, Nicole Harper went to bed crying, thinking she was no longer pregnant after an Arkansas state trooper — using a police driving maneuver to end car chases — flipped her vehicle on a highway after he accused her of not pulling over quickly enough during a traffic stop.
The next day, however, a doctor detected a heartbeat, and Harper, who had spent years trying to get pregnant, is now the mother of a 4-month-old baby girl, Norwood said.
While the civil lawsuit alleges that Harper suffered severe bodily injuries, Norwood declined to describe them in detail but said "the mental harm she suffered is way worse than the physical harm."
"She's not after the money. She wants the PIT policy reevaluated," Norwood said. "You shouldn't flip someone's car for the smallest traffic violation possible."
Norwood said Harper was not trying to flee from the police officer and she wasn't a threat to anyone during the pursuit. It's a victimless crime, Norwood said, that led the officer to deploy excessive and unreasonable force against her.
That night, Harper was driving home alone...when Dunn initiated a traffic stop against her for going 84 mph in a 70 mph zone.
He turned on his lights and siren while pursuing Harper, who immediately switched on her hazard lights, slowed down, and pulled into the right lane, according to a dashcam video provided to BuzzFeed News by Norwood.
Harper felt there wasn't enough room on either shoulder of the highway due to concrete barriers to safely pull over her car, she states in her lawsuit and in a conversation with Dunn immediately after the accident. Instead, she turned on her blinkers, dropped her speed to approximately 60 mph, and waited to pull over at an exit ahead, the lawsuit states.
A little over two minutes into the pursuit, Dunn used a PIT — tapping his vehicle into the back of Harper's car — to force her to stop. The PIT caused her red SUV to veer sharply to the left toward the concrete barrier, and seconds later it flipped over, leaving Harper hanging upside down in her seat.
While Dunn was helping Harper get out of the car, he is heard asking her on the dashcam video, "Why didn't you stop?"
"Because I didn't feel like it was safe ... I didn't feel like there was enough space," Harper is heard saying.
"Well, this is where you ended up," Dunn replies, as Harper struggles to get out of the car.
She is heard telling Dunn, "I'm pregnant!" to which Dunn says, "Well, ma'am, you've got to pull over when we tell you."
During their conversation, Harper is heard agreeing with Dunn that she was speeding, but says she didn't think the shoulders were wide enough for her to pull over. She then tells him that's why she had turned on her hazard lights to indicate that she was going to stop ahead.
"I didn't even think it was safe for you for me to pull over there," she is heard telling Dunn. "I thought it would be safe to wait until the exit."
Dunn then tells her how police use the PIT maneuver when they believe people are fleeing from them.
In 2020, the Washington Post reported that since 2016, at least 30 people have been killed and hundreds more injured when police use PIT maneuvers to end car chases. At least 18 of those deaths were when police tried to stop the cars for minor traffic violations such as speeding, and at least four people who died were bystanders or victims of the crime.
Norwood said that at no point has Dunn apologized to Harper for endangering her life, and he is not aware of any disciplinary action taken against the officer. ...
Norwood said he and Harper reached out to the state police several times to resolve the issue privately and to urge them to reexamine their PIT policy, but said they refused.
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Oswin - The Archdevil
Part 2 of a new series about Oswin Greystone, wizard con man and deeply unfortunate man.
So anyway, yeah, the captain of the guard wants a pet wizard. Things are not looking great for poor Oswin. They’re not looking great in his own series, now, because this is long enough to need a readmore. Let me know if you want to be on a taglist and I’ll start one. I’m not sure how much of this there will be, but he and his creepy captain really grabbed my imagination, so certainly there will be some more after this.
Continuation of this post.
tw: abuse, tw: abuse of authority, tw: fantasy police brutality (though he’s kind of stopped pretending to be acting as a cop at this point), tw: fantasy devil worship, tw: pet whump (working toward it anyway), tw: devil contracts
Oswin’s legs couldn’t hold him, but the whip that had nearly killed him was back in the guard captain’s hand, so he kept dragging himself along beside him, crawling awkwardly forward on his good hand and his knees and nearly tangling himself up in the robes that, with the back sliced open, hung down in his way, barely attached to him anymore.
At the bottom of the steep, winding staircase, Oswin’s limbs were already quaking, and he let out a soft whimper that made his throat ache.
The captain moved around him and squatted down in front of his head, cupping his face in one hand. “First choice, pet. You’re going up two flights of stairs, up to my chambers over the main office. You may crawl, you may be dragged, or you may be carried. I spent too much on that healing potion to hope for dragging, but you’ll need to be a very good boy if I carry you.”
Oswin’s brain couldn’t catch up. This wasn’t right. None of this was right. This wasn’t how people talked. It wasn’t how people were. Except - wasn’t it? He’d been in the courts of petty, tyrannical lords before, on occasion. He’d watched men who could get away with it pinch serving women and belittle servants and - and perhaps that was what this man thought was happening. Perhaps he thought Oswin a servant, or likely to become one. And without Oswin’s books available to him, maybe he was right.
Oswin wanted to look down, to avert his eyes, but his time when he tried, the captain kept a steel grip on his chin, forcing him to meet his eyes. They were dark, a brown that tended toward gray, without any of the warmth of his own, and hard as stones. He swallowed heavily, the pain in his throat insignificant next to the pain still raging across his back, but still easily made worse.
It had been hard enough getting himself to the foot of the stairs, and he couldn’t imagine breathing or moving would be easier on an incline.
“I can be a good boy, Master,” he whispered.
The captain smiled. “Clever. I’ll have to keep my eye on that. But then, I knew you would be. Come on, put your arms around my neck.”
Oswin knew he was a little underfed, but the captain picked him up like it was nothing. The pressure of the captain’s arm across his ruined back felt white-hot, and he cried out hoarsely as he wrapped his arms around the captain’s neck and tried to hold himself up, away from the contact. He wasn’t strong enough, and had to settle back into his new master’s grip, his eyes filling with tears and his breath growing ragged again.
“That doesn’t sound like being a good boy,” the captain whispered into his ear, a low half-growl, “That sounds like complaining when you’re being done a favor.”
Oswin forced himself to breathe through the pain, to catch his breath, to talk. His voice came out strained, and barely above a whisper. “No, Master, please! I’m grateful! I just -” he grunted in pain, in spite of himself, “I just needed to adjust but now I can be - I can be fully grateful, Master, please.”
He wasn’t sure he’d ever begged so much in one day, but this time it seemed to work, or at least, his master didn’t drop him down the stairs. Instead, the captain started climbing, not winded no the stairs even carrying Oswin’s weight. Oswin shivered in the man’s arms. He’d hoped during his whipping, before his mind fully abandoned him, that the beating would stop when the captain grew tired, but he was certain now that that hadn’t been the case.
He’d been in dangerous spots before, but this time - this time he couldn’t afford the sob that threatened to rise up in his throat, so he buried his face in the side of the captain’s neck, clinging more tightly so that the man wouldn’t think he had any thought of trying to get away.
The captain’s pleased little hum made the pressure behind Oswin’s eyes spike, but he couldn’t afford the tears, so he focused instead on his breathing, on keeping it steady, on leaning into the captain’s grip so as not to fall, and then they were at the top of the stairs and his master was still carrying him, his footsteps steady as he walked through a small receiving room, a smaller office, which was little more than a closet with a desk in it, and into a sparsely-decorated bedroom.
The captain set Oswin down on the floor, just inside the door, and Oswin watched as he pulled an old, soft-looking rug to the side and revealed a set of sigils carved into the floor in circles, which he calmly traced over in chalk, reinforcing them.
Oswin’s skin crawled, and his stomach soured, but he knew he had no hope of making it down the stairs, much less out of the building, without being caught and, presumably, tortured to death.
The captain retrieved a set of fine wax candles, more expensive than Oswin would have expected in a room like this, and Oswin thought, passively, that a quick death might have been worth it, but that wasn’t what he’d been promised.
The captain lit most of the candles and then came toward Oswin, manhandling him into the center of the circle without a word, and then arranging him on his knees, barking a single order: “Kneel.”
Oswin’s hands were bound behind his back, and he hung his head, not sure if he was going for deferential, or just for too pathetic to hurt again. Either way, the effort of staying upright soon took all of his attention, so that he hardly noticed the final candle being lit.
An enormous, winged figure stepped into the room, out of nowhere. He seemed to fill the space entirely, then shrunk down to merely looming, a head and a half taller than the guard captain and clearly strong enough to break either of them in half.
Oswin’s master was beside him, and knelt, too, albeit only on one knee, bowing deeply to the archdevil.
As the captain’s back straightened, the devil said, “Rise. Why do you request an audience, my champion?”
The captain got to his feet, but then bowed again, still standing. “I humbly propose an addendum to my contract, Master.”
Oswin’s mouth dried instantly. Power radiated from the archdevil like nothing he’d ever felt before, and his voice dripped with it. Was this fool really going to try to negotiate with it?
The archdevil laughed. “I already own your soul, child. What else is left to offer?”
The captain gestured toward Oswin. “His, for a start.”
Oswin looked up in surprise, and instantly regretted it. It had been one thing to sneak glances at the archdevil through his eyelashes; it was another to look directly up at him, meeting a pair of terrifying eyes that seemed made entirely of fire.
“You think you can make contracts with other people’s souls?”
“I can if you’re willing to agree to my terms - what I want is his soul, but not to keep, of course. I’m happy to cede it back to you the moment he dies. And my original contract stipulated that I was willing to work for you, but not to proselytize. It was a point of contention at the time, if I recall, but I told you I would not be certain enough to promise such a thing, outside myself, for some years. It has been ‘some years,’ Master, and I’m happy to find you new followers, provided that it does not jeopardize the other work I do for you.”
“And your interest in his soul?” the devil asked, still looking Oswin in the eye. Oswin found himself paralyzed, unable to look away. Under that devilish gaze, he felt like his chest was being torn apart, his insides pulled out and studied, even though no one was touching him.
“I’ve always wanted a pet wizard,” the captain said casually, “Call it professional curiosity. I know my magic is yours, of course, Master, but I’d like to study those humans who do it on their own - and I’d like to harness it. I won’t be learning myself, of course. I know where my skills lie, and the purpose you’d have me put them to. But I don’t like the idea of humans with power, and I want this one under my thumb, where I can learn to tear those apart.”
Oswin was shaking, the wounds across his back pulsing again, agonizing, while the devil’s eyes continued to rove over his front. He felt like a bug, pinned to a scientist’s paper, but the paper was burning, too, acidic and deadly.
“And why this one?” The devil’s eyes suddenly left him, turning their full force on the captain, and Oswin sagged forward, gasping for breath.
“This one’s a very interesting case,” the captain said. “No respect for a contract, which I’m hoping to beat out of him, but for once I had a wizard in my sights who wasn’t blatantly dangerous, and I thought I’d make good on the opportunity. He’s been selling counterfeit spell scrolls, and then disappearing to ply his trade somewhere else in town before his victims actually try to read or copy the damned things. The thing is, we know he’s strong enough that he could make the real thing, were he properly - motivated. He’s useful, but in need of - management.”
The archdevil hummed thoughtfully, and the captain added, “In our attempts to capture him, he displayed quite a bit of power and - spunk. I know better than to think I could control him without your direct assistance, my lord. But I hope to use him in your service.” He bowed again, more quickly this time.
The archdevil stepped forward into the circle, which Oswin had really been hoping he couldn’t do, and reached down, raising Oswin’s chin to make him look into those flaming eyes again, and nearly lifting him off the ground by the head as he did it.
“And I suppose it doesn’t hurt that he’s a pretty little thing, hmm?” the devil asked, his flame eyes flicking quickly to the captain and back.
The man chuckled. “No, my lord. It does not. Nor does it hurt that he’s already proven he breaks beautifully. You should have heard him begging earlier.”
“We will negotiate the details without him,” the archdevil said imperiously, “It’s simpler that way. And he can agree or refuse.”
Oswin was nearly hyperventilating in the devil’s grip.
“I’m not sure which I think is more interesting,” the devil added casually, before letting go of Oswin’s face and waving his hand in a pattern too quick for even Oswin’s practiced eyes to follow. A blanket of silence fell over him and he could hear nothing, not even his own breathing, for so long that he found himself collapsed inward before the sound returned, bowed low, with his forehead on the floor and his chest and stomach cushioned against his legs, where he could feel the rise and fall of the breaths he couldn’t hear and know that he was still alive.
He realized he was sobbing in dry, heaving gasps only when sound came rushing back to his ears, but he wasn’t sure how long he had been doing it.
“Very well,” the archdevil said, “Lift his head. I want to look him in the eyes again.”
The captain’s hands forced Oswin upward, tilting his head back to make him look up at the looming devil.
“Oswin the wizard,” the archdevil said, power already crackling in his voice in a way that seemed to bind up the air in Oswin’s lungs. “I assume there’s a surname that goes with that.”
“G-greystone, my lord,” Oswin said, the answer tearing out of him in spite of his dry mouth and aching throat, “My father was a mason, but thought to better himself, or at least our family.”
“Hmm, well, now you’ll be in service of a captain of the city guard - and of me. It seems he’ll be getting his wish.”
Oswin shuddered. The archdevil’s voice was oil-smooth, but so, so dangerous. He nodded wordlessly, knowing better than to disagree.
“Should you agree to cosign this addendum with my champion,” the archdevil continued, “You will be bound, body and soul, to his service. Your soul will be mine, to be delivered upon your permanent death. You will be marked as mine, but you will not receive any of my power, nor will you be allowed to use yours outside of your master’s orders.”
The archdevil’s mouth quirked upward into a smile. “I should warn you, wizard, this is an extremely bad deal for you. But my champion assures me that you are a genuine affront to order, and that whether you sign or not, you will be brought to heel. Or you could choose to be tortured to death. But you should know that your master’s contract with me stipulates that if you do not cooperate, he may kill you up to five times and have you returned to his care to try again. I have never seen a man strong enough to withstand being tortured to death a third time, much less a fourth. I’m afraid a bad deal is the only one you’ve got.”
Oswin’s mind swam. He was trapped again, pinned by those eyes, and he was burning, he was sure of it. His mind felt like it was caught in an earthquake, struggling to run to safety with the land bucking underneath him. Just as he took in a breath to speak, the archdevil interrupted him.
“Do not think you can make a deal of your own with me, instead, Oswin Greystone. This one likes a challenge, and he is a useful servant. I don’t make contracts with the desperate. Not worth the work of keeping an eye on them. Break his hold on you, and I will let the consequences be what they will. But try to take your soul back from me and I will destroy you where you stand. I do not have the patience to shepherd one who is reluctant.”
The captain held up a knife. “This agreement will be sealed in blood, or not at all. What do you choose, submission or death?”
The archdevil’s eyes had not left him. Gods, he was burning up. He knew with complete certainty that death, even drawn out, would mean facing this devil again, would mean those flaming eyes burning into him, that oil-slick voice talking to him, that crackling, unbearable power licking at the edges of his own, and he’d just wind up right back here again, waiting to be tortured.
What escaped his lips was a sob, and not an agreement, but the archdevil looked away, making a soft noise of satisfaction. “He chooses submission. Bring the parchment.”
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